The Friendship Order is a service award of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam given to non-Vietnamese individuals or organizations that have “made great contributions to building, consolidating and developing the friendship between Vietnam and other countries and organizations in the world.”

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien presented Viet Nam’s Friendship Order to Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

“Dr Shin, as WHO Regional Director, has walked hand in hand with the Government of Vietnam as we strengthened our primary health care system. He had direct engagement in policy dialogues – not only within the health sector, but also with the National Assembly – and provided strategic guidance that had played a critical role as we continue to advance our journey towards universal health coverage,” said Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

During his term as WHO Regional Director, Dr Shin has actively advocated for the enhancement of primary health care in Vietnam through an increased health insurance funds allocation. In 2018, health insurance coverage has been expanded to 87% (from 60% in 2010). Dr Shin also supported the country’s work in strengthening grassroots health network as foundation for primary health care, scaling up hospital management, and improving health financing.

“It is wonderful to see the progress that has been made towards universal health coverage in Vietnam over the last decade – thanks to political commitment at the highest levels. From 60% of people with health insurance coverage, we are now at 87%. I hope that you will reach 100% in the not too distant future. And just as importantly – I hope that strong primary health care services continue to be a central part of the health reform agenda,” Dr Shin said.

Dr Shin has served as the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific since 2009.

Reported by Loan Tran-Thu Nguyen